While some domestic and international charities are making strides in terms of improving their online presence in the digital space, a plethora of philanthropic organizations continue to lack the necessary knowledge, tools or employees to create an atmosphere conducive to helping their mission. Recent reports from sources such as CharityComms and Lloyds Bank’s have confirmed that there is a disconnect between many charities’ digital influence and their goals to help a certain cause.
According to a recent study by CharityComms, 80% of digital professionals agree that maintaining a solid online presence is essential in boosting a charity’s funding, mission and overall philanthropic goals. However, the same professionals from this study also confirm they believe less than 40% of their leaders are aware of this. In addition, a research study conducted by Lloyds Bank’s indicates that charities actually have the lowest score in relation to digital savviness when it comes to rudimentary technological skills.
For many charities that lack digital influence, there is pressure to successfully adapt to this new space as a preventive measure to avoid becoming “obsolete.” Various upper management officials across philanthropic bodies and charities agree that digital is no longer a phase, and is therefore a trend that is here for the long run.
In order to compete within the industry, charities need to give the necessary attention and strategy to effectively shape their digital presence to avoid any missed opportunities, donors or partnerships. In other words, failing to create a digital presence for any charity is detrimental not only to the cause, but to the internal operations that allow the philanthropic body to function altogether.
Megan Griffith Gray, head of digital and communications at the National Council for Voluntary Organizations, believes that this is the perfect opportunity for organizations in the voluntary/nonprofit sector to recreate how they function on a day to day basis. The NCVO is moving towards a new strategy in the digital sphere, which is focused on service delivery instead of simply publishing content or communication.
The first step to attain some form of digital literacy is to start using technology at a very basic level. This can entail becoming familiar with how social media functions to better understanding how campaign or event hashtags can improve the buzz around your latest charitable event. Tech entrepreneur Mary McKenna says: “If charities are serious about grasping the opportunities that digital presents, they need to start using digital tools as part of their everyday modus operandi.”
It is also in the best interests of the charity to have one person on the trustee board who is digitally savvy and can initiate a culture change geared towards advancing the organization’s mission. As a charity’s online responsibilities are becoming increasingly important, quick decision making is vital on social media platforms that can reach a fairly large audience. Utilizing media and platforms to improve your charity’s digital literacy is the first solid step to help your organization’s goals moving forward in the industry.